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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Zoo or ZonaZoo, Tucson’s cats are wild


     Courtesy of the Tucson Wildlife Center

    A local species of Arizona wildcat. Wilbur, a bobcat, is the real-life version of the UA’s mascot, and is currently taken care of at the Tucson Wildlife Center.

    About 10 years ago, a group of construction workers were flattening the ground to put up foundation. At the construction site, they accidentally crushed a bobcat den. All of the bobcats were killed during the incident, except for one — Wilbur.

    Only a few weeks old, the kitten was taken to the Tucson Wildlife Center. The bobcat hadn’t only lost his family to a bulldozer, but had also sustained a head injury that would leave him epileptic for the rest of his life.

    “Wilbur can no longer live in the wild, because he receives anti-seizure medication every day,” said Dan Moxley, the interim director of the Tucson Wildlife Center.

    According to Moxley, the TWC assisted over 1600 animals in 2014.

    “Our whole purpose is to get the animals back out into the wild after they are healed,” Moxley said.

    Recently, a cormorant found in Patagonia Lake was brought in with a 3-inch fishing lure lodged into the back of its throat.

    “The bird had first [mistaken] it for a real fish,” Moxley said. “Fortunately, we were able to get it out of him in time, and he is alive and well today.”

    Lisa Bates and Peter Liniger established the center in 1998. Licensed under the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the center is sponsored entirely by donations. It is currently seeking funds in an effort to expand, as more space would be highly beneficial for the animals and workers.

    Like Wilbur, there are many animals known as rescues, meaning they will never see the wild again due to various disabilities. Though they won’t be out in the wilderness again, they have been given the purpose of making an impact on people. Christopher Dobrzenski, a volunteer at TWC, said he has a special relationship with the peregrine falcon.

    “He will climb on my glove on a regular basis,” Dobrzenski said. The peregrine falcon has the highest airspeed velocity, making it the fastest bird in the world. It is especially unusual for a bird of its nature to bond with a human.

    “I can walk right in here, and he will let me touch him,” Moxley said. “He is not like that with anyone else.”

    The UA’s mascot, Wilbur the Wildcat, may be more familiar with rowdy fans than wild animals, but he is glad the Tucson Wildlife Center is taking care of his non-mascot counterparts.

    “I’m really happy my fellow animal friends are taken care of by [the Tucson] Wildlife Center,” Wilbur said. “It means a lot to me that our community is so active and caring for the wildlife out here in Tucson.”

    According to Arizona Athletic’s article “Wilbur the Wildcat’s Historic Beginning,” on Nov. 7, 1914, the university claimed the name “Wildcats” after a game played against the Occidental College Tigers. Bill Henry, a Los Angeles Times contributor, wrote that the UA “showed the fight of wild cats.”

    With claws of steel and a mind of strength, Wilbur, the Tucson Wildlife Center’s bobcat, continues to power through, refusing to be restrained as a true Wildcat. In Wilbur’s den area at the center, he has a basketball that he enjoys playing with. Coincidence?

    To coincide with National Wildlife Week, a program created by the National Wildlife Federation to educate children on the importance of wildlife taking place March 9-15, the Daily Wildcat would value your contribution.

    In our “Search for the Wildest Cat,” we will be accepting photo submissions of your own “wild cats.” Take a photo of your cat in its wildest form and send your photo to or message it directly to the @weeklywildest cat  Instagram. Include your pet’s name, age and any other message your cat has that supports its “wild” activity.

    When born to be a Wildcat, there’s no going back. You maybe able to take the cat out of the wild, but you won’t be able to take the wild out of the cat.

    For more information about supporting the Tucson Wildlife Center, contact the center at (520) 290-WILD (9453), or visit for more information.

    For more information regarding the “Search for the Wildest Cat,” contact Victoria Teplitz at or Mia Moran at


    Follow Victoria Teplitz on Twitter.

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